Ask Amy: Wedding Livestock May Bring Family Together

By Amy Dickinson | August 24th, 2021

Putting the past aside for festivities and – agriculture?


Wedding livestock guests Image

Dear Amy: My extended family has a history of division, of people not speaking to one another for years.

I am guilty of this, too. It’s a multi-generational pattern I’d like to end for the next generation.

We are joyfully planning our daughter’s upcoming wedding.

Unfortunately, there is one burr in the saddle.

One of my sisters has decided not to speak to me or our other sister.

We love her husband. Her daughter is a bridesmaid.

I have just learned from a mutual friend that our “silent sister” is coming to the wedding. I believe that’s a very good thing.

But I don’t want my silent sister to feel awkward, lurking about the fringes like a coyote in the brush.

My thought is to invite ALL family members in a group email, including this sister, to volunteer for enjoyable tasks on the wedding day. These could include helping with the wedding livestock; like decorating the donkey with flowers, or feeding the longhorns so they show up for the photographer.

My only worry is that she’ll attempt to create further drama and will not rise to the occasion. It’s tricky.

Do I just let her isolate, or should I welcome her into the joy of this occasion?

I want the focus to be on my daughter and want to be kind and inclusive.

– MOB


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Dear MOB: First of all, any wedding that involves decorating the donkey with flowers or wrangling longhorns for a photo op is a wedding I definitely want to go to.

These livestock guests may prove easier to handle than your family members, however. Keep in mind that even the best-laid plans can go awry.

Weddings can be hyper-charged events that will bring out both the best and the worst in people.

I give you much credit for working hard to try to break the cycle of silence and estrangement in your family.

I emphasize that you are “trying” in order to underscore your limited ability to force your sister to change. You can, however, nudge her toward change – and your effort will definitely make you feel better.

So yes, invite the entire family in a group email to choose a task if they would like, but emphasize that they are also welcome to simply attend and enjoy the wedding. Ask them to get back to you.

Your sister may choose to stay silent, or she might choose to be snarky. Ignore either reaction and return your focus to the marrying couple, your other guests, and your lovely wedding livestock.


In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068

© 2021 by Amy Dickinson

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